Romanian ruling party chief says plans to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OR REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

Romanian ruling party chief says plans to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – The leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrats said the government had approved a memorandum to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, one of the first countries to do so following the United States.

FILE PHOTO: Social Democrat Party leader Liviu Dragnea gestures after leaving the Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, November 13, 2017. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea/via REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump in December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Washington’s Arab allies and dismaying Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as their capital.

Under Romanian legislation, a final embassy relocation decision belongs to centrist President Klaus Iohannis, who said he had not been consulted. The Romanian government and foreign ministry did not immediately confirm the information.

“Yesterday, the government adopted a memorandum deciding to start the procedure to effectively move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Social Democrat leader and lower house speaker Liviu Dragnea told private television station Antena3 late on Thursday.

Dragnea keeps a tight grip on his party and is seen as effectively in charge of the cabinet.

Romanian President Iohannis said in a statement on Friday that he had not been informed or consulted about the decision and urged all government and political actors to show “responsibility and discernment regarding major foreign policy decisions that have strategic effects including on national security.”

“Such a decision must be taken only after consulting and securing the approval of all foreign policy and national security institutions, with a final decision belonging to the President, according to the constitution.”

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “at least half a dozen” countries were considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy is due to relocate on May 14.

“Our gesture has a huge symbolic value … for Israel, a state with an unbelievably large influence in the world and with which we have had a special relationship for many years,” Social Democrat leader Dragnea said.

“Moving the embassy to Jerusalem can and I believe will bring short, medium and long-term benefits for Romania and we must use this huge chance and opportunity.”

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra

Bucharest, a hostile city?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘DILEMA VECHE’)

 

Bucharest, a hostile city?

October 4, 1996: With my fingers tightly seated on the handle of the wooden suitcase, I present myself at the gate of the unit for the satisfaction of the military service. The plutonier Potrichnich, responsible for the “accommodating” of the recruits, has revealed each of us. In our platoon of Terriers * there are only two Bucharest, philologists both (Happens!): Gabi and I, the stalk of stature. Pumpkin rejoiced: “These two tiny linguists! You are buccaneers, yes ?! Let me give you sectors! That close-up bald bar, the piglet in the pigs! I said, “I made you the trick of my head!” And he made: all the “period” (the first month of the army) I washed the closes of the unit, and Gabi guarded the pigs’ cages (brackets: our unity, from the boiler, and the pigs had to be guarded day and night so as not to steal the villagers who used to jump over the fence. Years before, he had robbed the pigs with all the coins, it was a huge scandal). Being merciful, a Christian soul, Potrirniche was changing our sectors every week: I was guarding my swine, Gabi giggled dry feces. I was wrong, but the other was the problem.

He was like Potrichiche, he was a platoon of trade; but our platoon colleagues treated us like “Bucharest tricks,” though Gabi and I were hitting us, I do not know how, the worst people anyone can imagine. Two nations, two wretched, and small, and poor, and poor, and habarni in battle, and without resistance to alcohol. However, we have always been part of this “ass of the donkey,” that is, we have been given a certain attribute of the city, which we two were completely deprived of. The “trick” actually meant “the typical Bucharest hostility,” at least I understand it. In order to understand better (and because I admire Svetlana Aleksievici), I have gathered several answers from friends, to whom they give their first names (followed by their place of origin and current residence). I have a request: if the editorial publishes this text, I ask readers to briefly comment on their own experiences. Thank you!

“I got off the train in North Train Station, in the ’94, student, and as I got out of the station, a stray dog ​​bit me. From behind, he manages: he torn his big muscles. I asked the taxi drivers to take me to the hospital, he did not want one, because he was dirtying the bloodbath, and the one who took me pity asked me a triple fare to the Colentina hospital. There I went into the yard, I asked where he was, “the goalkeeper made a nod of his head, but he broke down a word on me. I’m going through the hospital yard, a pack of dogs running past me, more likely to hurt myself, and it probably had the smell of blood flowing from my leg. Painted and vaccinated, I went to the home with my hand; there they gave me a room that had nothing: no door, no windows, no cabinet, just the metal skeleton of a military bed. I left, I slept at the hotel, gave the next few days, almost all my money, I managed to get a room in another dorm. “(Mirel, Braila, Bucharest)

“For the first time, putting aside the idea of ​​a hostile city, closing my eyes and thinking of the first sensations of” Bucharest “I remember the Buzea family, which I invariably visited when I came. And it is a very pleasant memory … now, if I think about the fact that Bucharest is perceived as a hostile city, I tell you some of the memories that have built me ​​this picture: it was absolutely inconceivable for me to pass by a man and not to greet him or not to be greeted; here, as in any city, this is not practiced, and it hurts me to see indifferent people; the first time I went with the subway in ’83 when I came out and a young man from the subway told me: ‘Get out of hand, peasants, you’ve stepped on my feet’, free of charge with striking aggressiveness; when I came as a mature student, that is to college, in Bucharest there were all pockets of thieves (we were going a lot with the bus and going out clearly); there would be aggression in traffic felt when I started driving; communist districts and the perception of grayness. To be fair, I can say that I also have positive opinions from that time, but that’s on another occasion. “(Costica, Gura Teghii, Bucharest)

“Michael, you got me thinking about this problem … I was still thinking if I felt Bucharest hostile … and the answer is complicated. I came to college for 18 years, but I stayed at home, so many others like me. Indeed, at school, there was a separate group of Bucharest, but they were in the minority. I may have felt a hostile city when I looked for work. I did not have knowledge, I had no Bucharest friends to recommend, and so it was quite difficult for me to do first. Driving seemed a problem to you if you had provincial numbers: from the first I received horns, even though I was not wrong with anything, but I could just go slower. Otherwise, in the workplace, wherever I worked, my colleagues were mostly provincial like me, so there is no animosity. And I have to admit that besides Amalia, I have no other friend in Bucharest. But if I take after my husband, Bucharest, the locals are very much against the provinces. They have crowded the city, are uncivilized, uneducated … and the list can continue. I am the exception, of course! And here in Prague, at a distance, to see talks! The Bucharesters are overwhelmed, those in the province are peasants! Undoubtedly, however, the Provincials fought more for their position in Bucharest, and they learned more quickly to do it on their own, not being with their parents. That’s how much I had to say. “(Andreea, Braila, Prague) at a distance, see talks! The Bucharesters are overwhelmed, those in the province are peasants! Undoubtedly, however, the Provincials fought more for their position in Bucharest, and they learned more quickly to do it on their own, not being with their parents. That’s how much I had to say. “(Andreea, Braila, Prague) at a distance, see talks! The Bucharesters are overwhelmed, those in the province are peasants! Undoubtedly, however, the Provincials fought more for their position in Bucharest, and they learned more quickly to do it on their own, not being with their parents. That’s how much I had to say. “(Andreea, Braila, Prague)

“I know Bucharest has not been sympathetic from the beginning, but I preferred this. I came here for college; I passed the exam, got into the subway and went to the station. The stupid subway that left the Heroes has reached the Polytechnic. During this time I asked the people and tried to find my way to the station. I know I’m the most unlucky, I’ve got a train going in another direction, that the wagon I went to was without the speakers … I finally got fixed to buy another ticket, for the train after. We were coming from Constanta, a beautiful, peaceful city. It took me years to get used to the air in the capital and the noise. As long as I was in college, I had free subscription to the surface, I was worry-free everywhere; I have not found a place where I can hear my thoughts. The log is big, but he has no hidden colts; Behind the blocks there are more screams than I could imagine, and I was hardly approaching the central areas. Even in the area that is now a natural reserve I have not been able to find a place where I can say I do not hear the cars. I was saying I came for college. We got the scholarship. There was no home in the first year that there were no places, but I got room, we had a big average. They gave me a breakdown in Polygraphy. I was, I picked up the room and ran away. It was a luxurious room, because it had two shelves of eight possible. There was no door, no mattresses, the bed was more a metal frame, it had no window frames, no more painting, water or heat. We then found a high school home, a home separated by boys to the girls, the door locked at 22 o’clock, you were obligatory paying the table card, which was about the entire scholarship. I did, that I was among the few who woke up in the morning, and had a few cards to me; in the evenings there were smaller portions to get ladies with bigger bags. The list could continue well and well. But I realized with time that the city itself has no blame, I could go home anytime, that is, give up. Not in the city, not in college, but in challenges. It did not happen. Years have passed and I have come to see many cities, many countries. I found out that there is no place where milk and honey flow. I faced exactly the same challenges just on a much larger scale. It’s not too late to turn the globe and choose any city in the world, but today Constanza is not exactly what it once was. I think the hostility is not Bucharest. It is the hostility of the people who are in a position and who look at them from above all who want to be like them or above. It is about man’s resolve to make progress. Bucharest is a big city, still desirable for many. Qualifies for the hostile call. But I also talked to the Romanians who worked right in Italy and then felt the hostility of the locals because they were a threat as a number. I found people in Bristol who did not want to talk to me in principle. I found in Seattle people who did not let me venture from a road drawn on the carpet. I found people in Kuala Lumpur with whom I struck my hand and who then announced me in the 12th hour that they gave up the deal. You have caused me to remember the unpleasant events, but they are just one face of the coin.

 

“Question with closed answer, I forgot that this is what she says. In Chinese, there are sentences with ” ma”  in the queue … a new world may seem hostile, that is, the Doors: ” People are strange when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly when you’re alone.” .. OK, I answer, but I’d disappoint you deeply: I felt that the city welcomed me with open arms. It was love from the first, especially because I had been warned what a nasty thing to live among myths. Nope . It was extraordinary. I came after college, pushed by my mother, that in Sibiu I was unlikely to find decent decent service (“guanxi”, “in Chinese), mys did not have such a thing, so my sister and I were packed and sent to Bucharest. Here I got into one of the first corporations of the mid-1990s where we all were about the same age and we were from all corners of the country. If I did not come to Bucharest, I would have no idea what kind of people there are and other areas, very sympathetic and very open people. No trace of hostility on the contrary. In Sibiu I met people who lived there for 20 years and were still seen as Oltenians … in Bucharest I did not see this thing. And even if we were concerned that the Oleten or Transylvanian was a purely geographical thing, it did not involve hostility. Bucharest has opened my appetite for large, energy-rich cities, so we have arrived in a city with 25 million inhabitants. Big cities are indulgent with the Venetians, accepts it more easily than small towns. My opinion. “(Rosana, Sibiu, Shanghai)

“You want to make money for us, and you do not even give a beer call, as if you do not drink with these people anymore, since you’re famous. Well, I did not feel hostility when I arrived in the capital on my own in the 11th grade in 1990. It was through May, before the mining. I really liked people, they were friendly and nice. I did not know Bucharest at all, I landed myself by train, but people helped me get where I needed it. It may have been the euphoria after the Revolution. Instead, I noticed the hostility of those who wanted to take advantage of you, janitors, taxi drivers, currency changers, etc., which were very many to what I knew. And the sellers in the shops, who looked ugly and abhorrent to you, I suspect that they also behaved with the locals. In college I felt perfect, I stayed in the dorm, and there the inhabitants of Bucharest were minorities or were not at all. And our colleagues from Bucharest did not interfere with us, the provinces. They were staring up at us. But not all, with some I understood well. They were cheering in Regie, but the Bucharest people did not really participate. So did they just talk between them. Of course I was struggling with the corruption in the dorms, I think the administrator of a home earns thousands of dollars in the 90s. No hostility on this side, if you were making much money. The hostility of the locals is felt from time to time, but not from those who are from Bucharest, but from those who came here from Pantelimon or Adunatii Copaceni, looking at you from above, you, the provincial. Many do not realize that they still smell the cow and the sheep, they, the big city people. A sort of perceived hostility throughout the time would be to make sure the locals do not mix with the newcomers and keep a certain distance. But this is probably the case in any bigger city. That’s how it comes, we talk, we drink beer, we laugh, jokes, then everyone at his house. Some people do not even want to go out with you … “(Cristian, Reghin, Bucharest)

“I came in ’93. I did not feel hostility then. I felt hostile to him, but after the school years, when things became serious. But no taxi drivers or stray dogs have upset me, but the trick. And the trick is the mother of all hostilities. Otherwise, in Bucharest he laughs like nowhere else. And I’m not referring to the stupid laugh, the slum, you know what I mean; otherwise, Michael, I do not think I am the “witness” you need; the city did not seem to me like that, nor did it look like that. I was looking at the buildings, walking a lot. I liked the world, it seemed to me that people have style and that they can do and live a lot. Many of my books, theater, music, great concerns, seemed to be able to lead a life of intellect, whether veil or not. The city itself was the Capital. He could not think in terms of hostility, hospitality, facility, difficulty. Bucharest meant more than the inconveniences that you could meet, these were part of the life of any big city, I did not see anything bad or good in that. I liked the buildings, the air of the old houses, the private libraries, the long walks, the reveries … ergo, my testimony has no value, being too sentimental “(Andrei, Focşani, Bucharest)

* TR, that is, Reduced Term. Graduates of the faculty did only six months of military service.

Mihai Buzea is a journalist at Caţavencii.

Romania WWII: The White Squadron

(FROM GOOGLE+: MEMORIES OF LIGHT)

The White Squadron

+-

26 November 2014

In the pages prefacing Daniel Focşa’s writing, “The White Squadron”, Neagu Djuvara praises the author’s idea to reinstate, in historical order, the heroic deeds from the time of the war, “obscured or twisted until yesterday, so that, most of the times, the new generations completely ignore them”.

Being one of the infantrymen who walked their boots through hundreds of miles of dust or mud all the way to Odessa, Neagu Djuvara pays tribute to aviators, which he considers super humans not daring to compare himself to: “And when it comes to women aviators, my admiration is even higher”. Although regarded with wonderment or even disbelief, “there were a few extraordinary characters, like in the novels”, says the well-known Romanian historian, diplomat, philosopher, journalist and novelist, inciting us to marvel at the proverbial scenes, at the risks these heroines took, at the challenges and physical suffering they went through all the way to Kuban or above the hell of Stalingrad and read this book as a novel.

We open, therefore, a serial-story columns through which we try to pull out from the old chest-of-drawers true stories about the history of aviation, unique and savory details coming straight from the source, which come from the very ladies who wrote the legend of the White Squadron, hoping that these testimonies will inspire younger generations…

In 1938, the political atmosphere in Europe was increasingly tense – the armies of the Third Reich were marching, USSR threats, simultaneous and combined with those of Germany’s, resulted in frequent incidents caused by Soviet Russia at the border, pushing the Romanian Army to take important measures. Among other things, at the military maneuvers which took place in the fall of that year, in Galaţi, five aviatrixes (Mariana Drăgescu, Virginia Duțescu, Nadia Russo, Marina Știrbey and Irina Burnaia) had been invited to participate, for the first time, to be put to test and see how they would manage under war. It was about simulating dogfights, liaison missions against the clock, night flights – a sort of playing in the air, would say some; but it was one as serious as possible. And the fact that these women managed admirably the two weeks of exercises determined the headquarters to declare them fit for mobilization.

At the end of these maneuvers, Marina Ştirbei, daughter of Prince George Ştirbei and cousin of the more famous aviator Constantin Cantacuzino, revealed to her flying comrades her intention of setting up a squadron of sanitary planes with female pilots only. By that time, she had won a certain number of aviation competitions in the country and had even put her talent to the test, covering over two thousand miles in a raid that took her all the way to the Scandinavian countries. She would keep her word and, as the war became a certainty, Marina Ştirbei submitted a memorandum for the creation of this squadron to the Ministry of Air. It was approved on June 25, 1940, and so, the highest rated female pilots took a step forward, joining the army as lieutenants and getting access to Polish manufactured RWD-13 airplanes.

The squadron was registered in the Romanian Army documents under the “Sanitary Squadron” title and its purpose on the Eastern Front was to transport seriously wounded soldiers, who needed immediate surgery. In April 1942, the squadron will be renamed “Easy Transport Squadron 108”, but entered public consciousness as “The White Squadron”, a nickname disputed by several authors, which, in fact, belongs to the Italian journalist Curzio Malaparte, the author of the book “Coup d’état: the technique of revolution”. While he was researching on the Romanian front, he was inspired by the color of the Polish aircraft, originally painted white, with the red cross on the fuselage and the wings, which is why soon enough they have earned the reputation of air ambulances. Because the Soviets did not respect that these were sanitary planes and bombarded them, the small RWD-13 were painted in camouflage colors later on.

During World War II, Romania was the only country in the world that had sanitary airplanes piloted by women, although Marina Ştirbei’s idea had started from Finnish paramilitary Lotta Svärd group, made up exclusively of women, auxiliary to the army.

The “White Squadron” aviators were not exactly fighters, but their missions in hostile airspace were as dangerous as possible, always being stalked by antiaircraft artillery, by the isolated shooters and, especially, by the sharks of the air which had, however, much better equipped devices than theirs. They made quite an impression at the time and even became, in 1944, subject and inspiration source for the Romanian-Italian artistic movie “Squadriglia Bianca”, directed by Ion Sava, starring Claudio Gora, Lucia Sturdza-Bulandra and Mariella Lotti, former King Michael’s girlfriend. With or without this movie, there was still not enough done to reveal the true value of this adventure called “The White Squadron”. Moreover, after the communist regime was installed, the fate was so unfair to these daring girls, so famous during the war that not only they entered complete anonymity, but they even ended up in prison, or in the best case they were removed from aviation and marginalized.

It seems, therefore, natural to dig in the past and bring their admirable front experience to the light. The first page of our serial is dedicated to Mariana Drăgescu, so make sure you do not miss it in our next edition.

Translated by Ancuţa Gălice

Slavery in today’s MENA and in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MENA-FORUM)

 

THE GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX 2016 published this information page “as violent conflict escalates and political, economic, social and security spill overs destabilise many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the profile of victims vulnerable to modern slavery has shifted. Though MENA continues to act as a destination for men and women from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa who are attracted to the region with promises of well-paying jobs, increasingly Middle Easterners themselves faced exploitation and slavery in 2016. Victims were identified as forced recruits in state and non-state armed groups, as victims of forced marriage and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign and local citizens were subject to forced labour and debt bondage in service sectors such as domestic work, cleaning, and as drivers and restaurant workers, as well as in construction, agriculture and mechanics.” Slavery in today’s MENA and in the world generally still escapes the media’s radar.

 

In effect, this sort of affairs is not restricted to the MENA region only as per today the Construction Index of the United Kingdom published this short but significant article on the same but sad subject.

A Romanian man has been arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences relating to labour abuse on London construction sites.

Above: One man has been arrested

The government’s Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by police, carried out simultaneous swoops on five homes in Barking, Walthamstow, Forest Gate, Ilford and Newham as part of an investigation into the exploitation of eastern European workers.

One man is in custody on suspicion of modern slavery offences and more than 50 people are being treated as ‘vulnerable’ following the early morning raids yesterday (21st February).

The GLAA raids were in response to allegations of labour abuse on construction sites across the capital, threats of violence and false identities being used.

A number of people, all believed to be Romanian or Moldovan nationals, were found to be living at the five addresses that were raided. In one terraced house 23 people were found to be living in cramped conditions, including six women and two young children. Ten have been taken to a reception centre, including two 15-year-old boys.

The arrested man, a Romanian national in his 20s, is being held at Forest Gate Police Station for questioning.

GLAA senior investigating officer Tony Byrne said: “Our capability to investigate and take action to disrupt alleged criminality and labour abuse is increasing. Our priority is to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and today’s action demonstrates we will act when our intelligence suspects labour offences are being committed.”

The Crown Prosecution Service is this week hosting a three-day summit on modern slavery and human trafficking, with representatives from 15 countries.

The History of Dracula’s Castle

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE FROM GOOGLE +, FROM THE POST OF STANLEY OUL)

 

The History of Dracula’s Castle

Everyone knows something about Dracula, the famous character from Bram Stocker’s book that had such a great resonance. What not everyone knows is that Bran Castle is the place that inspired the writer. The truth is that Bram Stocker had never been to Romania, and he built the entire story by inspiring from books and pictures that described Vlad III Dracul, (c. 1431 – 1476), and the Bran Castles’ stories. His character is built following the stories about Vlad Tepes and his cruelty.

Bran Castle was first mentioned in documents in 1377 when it was built by the Saxons of Kronstadt at their own expense and labor force. But this beautiful medieval castle is older than that. Initially, it was built as a wooden castle guarding an important mountain pass by the Teutonic Knights in 1212, when King Andrew II of Hungary invited them into the small but strategically sensitive Burzenland in return for guarding the southeastern border of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Kipchak-Cuman confederation.

The Teutonic Knights had quite a different point of view and planned to establish their own, independent state in the area. King Andrew II, (1175 – 1235, king of Hungary from 1205 until his death), quickly realized what was going on, and in 1225 he expelled the Teutonic Order from his realm, before it managed to grow powerful enough to oppose him. In this tim, this wooden fortified settlement was called Dietrichstein, and it was destroyed by the Mongols in 1242 during the Mongol Invasion.

As time passed, and military conflicts intensified, the castle was heavily fortified and was used over the ages as a defensive position against the invading Ottoman Empire. Despite popular belief, Vlad III Dracul had little to do with the castle, although he passed through the area occasionally. In fact, it has never been the property of Wallachian prince. He may have stayed at Bran for a few days (not even that is so certain, though), but it was definitely not his castle.

Besides playing an important military role, Bran Castle also had a commercial purpose. Being placed at the border of two important regions, it provided safe passage from one location to another, thus improving the relations and economic development of both Wallachia and Transylvania. Bran remained a key military strategic position at the crossroads of the Kingdom of Hungary, the Principality of Moldavia and the Principality of Wallachia up until the 18th century.

In 1917, the town of Brasov donated the castle to the Emperor of Austro-Hungary, Franz Joseph I, (1830 – 1916). After the end of World War I, the castle has been donated once again by the city of Brasov, but this time to Queen Mary Of Romania (1875 – 1938; Marie of Edinburgh). After her death, the castle passed to Princess Ileana’s property, (1909 -1991), Queen Mary’s daughter, and the archduke Anton of Habsburg’s wife, (1901 – 1987).

After the forced abdication of Romania’s Royal Family in 1947, the castle passed into Romanian state property, and in 1950 was granted as National Monument. In 2005, the Romanian government passed a special law allowing restitution claims on properties illegally expropriated, such as Bran, and thus a year later the castle was awarded ownership to Dominic von Habsburg, (born in 1937), the son and heir of Princess Ileana. Nowadays, it is a museum.

The castle has 57 rooms and a secret passageway leading up to the watch towers. It is situated on a cliff at an elevation of 762 meters (2500 feet), and is surrounded by valleys and hills. Much of the furniture and the artwork that hangs from the castle’s walls today belonged to the Queen Marie.

Photo: The Bran Castle, situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov in Romania.

http://www.bran-castle.com/

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bran_Castle

Photo

Guatemala Played A Key Role In The Jewish State’s Creation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Why a small Central American nation became a trailblazer on Jerusalem

Guatemala played a key role in the Jewish state’s creation and has enjoyed Israeli security assistance ever since. It doesn’t hurt that its leader is deeply religious

Raphael Ahren

Guatemala's new ambassador to Israel, Dr. Juan Garcia Granados leaving the President's Residence in Jerusalem after presenting his credentials, July 1955 (Moshe Pridan/GPO)

Guatemala’s new ambassador to Israel, Dr. Juan Garcia Granados leaving the President’s Residence in Jerusalem after presenting his credentials, July 1955 (Moshe Pridan/GPO)

On Sunday, Guatemala became the first country after the US to announce its intention to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move seen as tantamount to recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, though President Jimmy Morales’s statement included no explicit recognition.

Predictably, the Central American nation’s decision was castigated by the Palestinians and other Arab states and hailed in Israel as an act of deep friendship that marked the beginning of a new trend. Neighbor Honduras is said to be next in line. Like Guatemala, it also voted last week against the United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the US’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there.

Other countries — Togo, Paraguay, Romania, Slovakia — are also said to be considering following in Guatemala’s footsteps in bucking decades-old diplomatic dogma to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But what prompted a relatively small nation far removed from the Middle East and its problems to be the first to take the plunge after the US?

There are several reasons for Guatemala’s dramatic step. The country’s well-established historic friendship with Israel and ongoing deep security and trade ties are one key part of the story. The personal character of the country’s current leader is the other.

Seventy years ago, Guatemala’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados, a member of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, played a crucial role in convincing Latin American countries to vote in favor of General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

File photo of the vote on the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine or United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947 (photo credit: Israeli Government Press Office)

The vote on the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine or United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. (Israeli Government Press Office/File)

“It could be that without Guatemala, the resolution on that fateful day would not have passed, and history would be very different,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told Morales during his November 2016 visit to Israel.

At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled that he had grown up in Jerusalem near a street named after Morales’s country. “In just about every town in Israel there is a Guatemala Street because we remember Guatemala’s friendship and the friendship and leadership of your UN ambassador at the time of the decision on the Partition Resolution, and so Guatemala was etched into our hearts then,” he said.

Guatemala was one of the first countries to recognize the nascent State of Israel in 1948, and the friendship has remained strong ever since.

Telegrams of recognition of the State of Israel sent by Guatemala, Finland and Romania (courtesy GPO)

In the 1970s, Israel was said to have assisted the military juntas ruling Guatemala a great deal in the area of counterinsurgency, providing them with advice and equipment.

“Israeli-Guatemalan military cooperation began in 1971, during the presidency of Col. Carlos Arana Osario,” political scientist Cheryl Rubenberg wrote in a 1986 article on bilateral relations.

“Then the Guatemalan chief of staff, Kjell Laugerud Garcia, visited Israel and met with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and other Israeli military officials. Laugerud Garcia expressed Guatemala’s interest in procuring armaments and military communications equipment. Later that year, the two countries signed their first cooperation agreement, though specifics were not made public,” she wrote.

Guatemala saw the Jewish state “as the world’s foremost practitioner of counterinsurgency” and looked to Jerusalem for expertise and arms, according to Rubenberg. “Israeli assistance began in 1971, but it took on increased importance after 1977, when the Guatemalan generals rejected US military aid in response to Carter administration pressures to remedy their gross human rights violations.”

Later that year, Israeli president Ephraim Katzir spent a week in Guatemala City, where he signed an agreement on military assistance.

Three years later, the Knesset passed a law declaring that united Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, leading the Security Council to call on all countries to withdraw their embassies from the city. Guatemala heeded the call and moved its embassy to Herzliya.

Relations with Israel remained strong, however. At least 300 Israeli security “advisers” were said to have operated in Guatemala in the early 1980s. “Israel is known to have intelligence teams, security and communications specialists, and military training personnel in Guatemala,” The New York Times reported at the time, though Israeli diplomats denied such claims.

Ties were also strong in the fields of civilian technology and tourism, among others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of Guatemala Otto Pérez Molina at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem. December 9, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In December 2013, Otto Fernando Perez Molina became the first president of Guatemala to visit Israel. “Guatemala did participate in the foundation of Israel, so that has led the foundations for a tradition and the unity between our two peoples,” he told Netanyahu at the time.

Fast forward to 2015, when Morales — a former comedian who’d never held political office — won the country’s presidential elections with 67 percent of the votes. Morales, a devout Evangelical, has been called “the Donald Trump of Guatemala.” In 2016, Guatemala received nearly $300 million in aid from the US.

Morales, who called his country’s relationship with Israel “excellent,” has been supportive of many of the current US administration’s policies, including Trump’s plan to build a border wall with Mexico, and, of course, his plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (R) and wife Gilda Marroquin visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on November 28, 2016. (AFP/Gali Tibbon)

On his visit to Israel last year — during which he received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem — he announced his hope to strengthen bilateral cooperation in many fields.

“Guatemala has a special relationship with Israel, and we know we can continue to work together: in partnership and hand in hand,” he told President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. “During our visit we hope we will be able to enjoy Israel’s rich culture and history, and learn from you how to improve in the areas of agriculture, husbandry, and technology — areas in which Israel excels.”

READ MORE:

Corrupt Leaning Romanian Government Survives No Confidence Vote After Hundreds Of Thousands Protest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Romania’s Government Survives Vote of No Confidence Amid Protests

9:13 AM Eastern

(BUCHAREST, Romania) — Romania’s center-left government has survived a parliamentary vote of no confidence after mass protests.

Ioana Bran, the parliamentary secretary said 161 lawmakers voted in support of the motion, short of the 232 votes needed for it to pass.

“We can say that the necessary majority has not been met, according to the constitution, for the vote to pass,” Bran said.

Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the government after it passed an emergency ordinance last week to decriminalize some official corruption.

The government eventually scrapped the ordinance and the bill will now be debated and approved by the parliament.

Lost World Of Shipwrecks Have Been Found In The Black Sea Off Of Bulgarian Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIME’S, SCIENCE SECTION)

An image of the well-preserved medieval ship found at the bottom of the Black Sea, one of more than 40 wrecks discovered. Photogrammetry, a process using thousands of photographs and readings, produced a rendering that appears three-dimensional.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

The medieval ship lay more than a half-mile down at the bottom of the Black Sea, its masts, timbers and planking undisturbed in the darkness for seven or eight centuries. Lack of oxygen in the icy depths had ruled out the usual riot of creatures that feast on sunken wood.

This fall, a team of explorers lowered a robot on a long tether, lit up the wreck with bright lights and took thousands of high-resolution photos. A computer then merged the images into a detailed portrait.

Archaeologists date the discovery to the 13th or 14th century, opening a new window on forerunners of the 15th- and 16th-century sailing vessels that discovered the New World, including those of Columbus. This medieval ship probably served the Venetian empire, which had Black Sea outposts.

Never before had this type of ship been found in such complete form. The breakthrough was the quarterdeck, from which the captain would have directed a crew of perhaps 20 sailors.

“That’s never been seen archaeologically,” said Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, an expedition member at the Center for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, in Britain. “We couldn’t believe our eyes.”

A photogrammetric image of a ship from the Ottoman era that most likely went down between the 17th and 19th centuries. The discoverers nicknamed it the Flower of the Black Sea because of its ornate carvings, including two large posts topped with petals. Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

Remarkably, the find is but one of more than 40 shipwrecks that the international team recently discovered and photographed off the Bulgarian coast in one of archaeology’s greatest coups.

In age, the vessels span a millennium, from the Byzantine to the Ottoman empires, from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Generally, the ships are in such good repair that the images reveal intact coils of rope, rudders and elaborately carved decorations.

“They’re astonishingly preserved,” said Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology center at the University of Southampton.

Kroum Batchvarov, a team member at the University of Connecticut who grew up in Bulgaria and has conducted other studies in its waters, said the recent discoveries “far surpassed my wildest expectations.”

Independent experts said the annals of deepwater archaeology hold few, if any, comparable sweeps of discovery in which shipwrecks have proved to be so plentiful, diverse and well-preserved.

A photogrammetric image of the stern of the Ottoman-era ship showing coils of rope and a tiller with elaborate carvings. A lack of oxygen at the icy depths of the Black Sea left the wrecks relatively undisturbed.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“It’s a great story,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. “We can expect some real contributions to our understanding of ancient trade routes.”

Goods traded on the Black Sea included grains, furs, horses, oils, cloth, wine and people. The Tatars turned Christians into slaves who were shipped to places like Cairo. For Europeans, the sea provided access to a northern branch of the Silk Road and imports of silk, satin, musk, perfumes, spices and jewels.

Marco Polo reportedly visited the Black Sea, and Italian merchant colonies dotted its shores. The profits were so enormous that, in the 13th and 14th centuries, Venice and Genoa fought a series of wars for control of the trade routes, including those of the Black Sea.

Brendan P. Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., said the good condition of the shipwrecks implied that many objects inside their hulls might also be intact.

“You might find books, parchment, written documents,” he said in an interview. “Who knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It’s amazing.”

ROMANIA

RUSSIA

Bulgaria’s

Exclusive

Economic

Zone

BLACK SEA

BULGARIA

GEORGIA

GREECE

TURKEY

Athens

Experts said the success in Bulgarian waters might inspire other nations that control portions of the Black Sea to join the archaeological hunt. They are Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Dr. Foley, who has explored a number of Black Sea wrecks, said the sea’s overall expanse undoubtedly held tens of thousands of lost ships. “Everything that sinks out there is going to be preserved,” he added. “They’re not going away.”

For ages, the Black Sea was a busy waterway that served the Balkans, the Eurasian steppes, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Greece. It long beckoned to archaeologists because they knew its deep waters lacked oxygen, a rarity for large bodies of water.

The great rivers of Eastern Europe — the Don, the Danube, the Dnieper — pour so much fresh water into the sea that a permanent layer forms over denser, salty water from the Mediterranean. As a result, oxygen from the atmosphere that mixes readily with fresh water never penetrates the inky depths.

In 1976, Willard Bascom, a pioneer of oceanography, in his book “Deep Water, Ancient Ships,” called the Black Sea unique among the world’s seas and a top candidate for exploration and discovery.

A photogrammetric image of a Byzantine wreck, dating perhaps to the ninth century. Superimposed is an image of one of the expedition’s tethered robots that photographed the lost ships.CreditExpedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“One is tempted,” he wrote, “to begin searching there in spite of the huge expanse of bottom that would have to be inspected.”

In 2002, Robert D. Ballard, a discoverer of the sunken Titanic, led a Black Sea expedition that found a 2,400-year-old wreck laden with the clay storage jars of antiquity. One held remnants of a large fish that had been dried and cut into steaks, a popular food in ancient Greece.

The new team said it received exploratory permits from the Bulgarian ministries of culture and foreign affairs and limited its Black Sea hunts to parts of that nation’s exclusive economic zone, which covers thousands of square miles and runs up to roughly a mile deep.

Although the team’s official name is the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, or Black Sea MAP, it also hauls up sediments to hunt for clues to how the sea’s rising waters engulfed former land surfaces and human settlements.

Team members listed on its website include the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology, the Bulgarian Center for Underwater Archaeology, Sodertorn University in Sweden, and the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece.

An illustration of what the research team believes the medieval ship found in the Black Sea looked like during its heyday. Credit Jon Adams/University of Southampton/Black Sea MAP

The project’s financial backer is the Expedition and Education Foundation, a charity registered in Britain whose benefactors want to remain anonymous, team members said. Dr. Adams of the University of Southampton, the team’s scientific leader, described it as catalyzing an academic-industry partnership on the largest project “of its type ever undertaken.”

Nothing is known publicly about the cost, presumably vast, of the Black Sea explorations, which are to run for three years. The endeavor began last year with a large Greek ship doing a preliminary survey. This year, the main vessel was the Stril Explorer, a British-flagged ship bearing a helicopter landing pad that usually services the undersea pipes and structures of the offshore oil industry.

Instead, archaeologists on the ship lowered its sophisticated robots to hunt for ancient shipwrecks and lost history.

In an interview, Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz of the University of Southampton said he was watching the monitors late one night in September when the undersea robot lit up a large wreck in a high state of preservation.

“I was speechless,” he recalled. “When I saw the ropes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still can’t.”

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Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the vessel hailed from the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (today Istanbul), and most likely went down sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. He said the team nicknamed it “Flower of the Black Sea” because its deck bears ornate carvings, including two large posts with tops that form petals.

In an interview, Dr. Batchvarov of the University of Connecticut said most of the discoveries date to the Ottoman era. So it was that, late one night, during his shift, he assumed that a new wreck coming into view would be more of the same.

“Then I saw a quarter rudder,” he recalled, referring to a kind of large steering oar on a ship’s side. It implied the wreck was much older. Then another appeared. Quickly, he had the expedition’s leader, Dr. Adams, awakened.

“He came immediately,” Dr. Batchvarov recalled. “We looked at each other like two little boys in a candy shop.”

Dr. Batchvarov said the wreck — the medieval one found more than a half-mile down — was part of a class known by several names, including cocha and “round ship.” The latter name arose from how its ample girth let it carry more cargo and passengers than a warship.

Dr. Adams said the remarkable color images of the lost ships derived from a process known as photogrammetry. It combines photography with the careful measurement of distances between objects, letting a computer turn flat images into renderings that seem three-dimensional.

He said tethered robots shot the photographic images with video and still cameras. The distance information, he added, came from advanced sonars, which emit high-pitched sounds that echo through seawater. Their measurements, he said, can range down to less than a millimeter.

A news release from the University of Southampton refers to the images as “digital models.” Their creation, it said, “takes days even with the fastest computers.”

Filmmakers are profiling the Black Sea hunt in a documentary, according to the team’s website.

Another part of the project seeks to share the thrill of discovery with schools and educators. Students are to study on the Black Sea, the website says, or join university scientists in analyzing field samples “to uncover the mysteries of the past.”

The team has said little publicly on whether it plans to excavate the ships — a topic on which nations, academics and treasure hunters have long clashed. Bulgaria is a signatory to the 2001 United Nations convention that outlaws commercial trade in underwater cultural heritage and sets out guidelines on such things as artifact recovery and public display.

Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the team had so far discovered and photographed 44 shipwrecks, and that more beckoned.

Which was the most important? Dr. Adams said that for him, a student of early European shipbuilding, the centerpiece was the medieval round ship. He said it evoked Marco Polo and city states like Venice. The ship, he added, incorporated a number of innovations that let it do more than its predecessors had and paved the way for bigger things to come.

“It’s not too much,” he said, “to say that medieval Europe became modern with the help of ships like these.”

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